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Government officials, dignitaries and members of the music fraternity, turned out in numbers today (Nov. 22) for the thanksgiving service in honour of Jamaican music legend Byron Lee, held at the Abe Issa Auditorium at St. George’s College.
Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, headlined the list of officials, who paid tribute to the stalwart of Jamaican music, whose band, Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, is one of the most enduring on the Jamaican landscape.
In detailing Lee’s musical legacy, Mr. Golding said: “Byron Lee assumed all of what had gone on before as his own legacy and like a relay runner, who is determined to run more than just his leg, Byron Lee has straddled the amazing evolution of Jamaica’s music from its very early formative years based on the mento fused with the calypso, spiced with the American jazz and blues, rock and roll and soul, and he straddled that long period through the ska, rock steady, reggae into dancehall and through it all, Byron helped to shape Jamaican music”.
Continuing he stated that “Byron Lee stamped his own influence on it (Jamaican music) and he did more, he took our music to the world and internationalized it so that it became part of what we now proudly proclaim to be brand Jamaica”.
Prime Minister Golding also asserted that Byron Lee is a timeless figure, who has left an indelible mark on Jamaica’s musical landscape.
“There were many bands that occupied the stage at that time (early years of Jamaica’s music) but what is so profound about Byron Lee is that Byron Lee and the Dragonaires never left the stage and I think that they can be said to be the most enduring of the musical bands that have come on the stage in Jamaica”, he remarked.
“Byron Lee and the Dragonaires today is more than just a band; it is an institution, it is a part of our culture and heritage,” Mr. Golding further affirmed, while urging the late musician’s family, friends and band members to “make sure that Byron Lee and the Dragonaires never die for all that he has done for the development of Jamaican music”.
Byron Lee passed away on November 4, after a valiant battle with cancer. He was 73 years old. The Byron Lee and the Dragonaires band is remembered for hits such as Jamaica Ska, Tiney Winey and Dancehall Soca.